A public alert issued by the Bureau of Public Health of the Ministry of Human & Health Services advises the public of the observed increase in the number of cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), a viral infection in young children under the age of five (5).

Between September 14 to October 1st, a total of 22 HFMDs were reported.  The cases range from children aged 1 to 11, with most of them in children below five (5) years of age.

In most cases, 95% lived in Koror and the rest in Airai.  None of the children were hospitalized, but the Bureau of Public Health seeks to take preventive measures against the spread of infection.

The infection is said to be very contagious and mainly affects children below five (5) years old. Children ages 1 to 4 that are in close quarters, such as daycares or preschools, or other places where children are in close contact, are most at risk.

The disease is spread through close contacts such as kissing, hugging, coughing, sneezing, contact with feces and touching objects or surfaces, and putting fingers on eyes, mouth, or nose.

Symptoms may include fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, painful sores in the mouth, on the tongue, fussiness in infants and toddlers, rash on the palm of hands, soles of feet, and sometimes on the buttocks that look like blisters.

To prevent the spread of this disease, wash hands frequently with soap and water after going to the toilet, before eating, handling food, or changing diapers.  Also, clean and disinfect surfaces, toys, eating and drinking utensils, bathroom sinks, and toilets.  Lastly, avoid close contact with sick people.

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